Repeal Campaign Makes Huge Strides
but Falls 1 Senator Short

By Arnie Alpert
Program Director, AFSC-NH
June 20, 2014

Legislation to repeal New Hampshire’s death penalty attracted tremendous political support and won stunning victories in the House of Representatives this year.  But it stalled in the State Senate, which voted 12 to 12 on April 17.

RepCushing&signThat means New Hampshire will end the year as it began, with one man in prison and sentenced to be put to death by the state, and with a rarely used capital murder statute still on the books.  As Representative Renny Cushing quipped, “a tie goes to the executioner.”  But the state’s political reality has gone through what Kevin Landrigan, the Nashua Telegraph’s long-time State House reporter, called “a seismic shift in legislative attitude from only a year ago.”

With a bulked up staff of skilled organizers supported by donations and foundation grants, the  New Hampshire Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty mounted a multifaceted campaign involving work with legislative allies, grassroots outreach, skilled use of the news media, mobilization of citizens for hearings and “days of action,” plus decentralized vigils and marches. Talks by national leaders including Sister Helen Prejean, the author of Dead Man Walking, and Kirk Bloodsworth, who was freed from death row based on DNA evidence that cleared him of responsibility for a Maryland murder, enabled the Coalition to win new supporters and invigorate the old ones for action.

Continue reading here or download PDF here.

Death Penalty Issues at a Glance

THE DEATH PENALTY KILLS THE INNOCENT - OUR JUSTICE SYSTEM IS FLAWED
THE DEATH PENALTY IS UNFAIR - IT IS BIASED AGAINST THE POOR AND MINORITIES
THE DEATH PENALTY COSTS UP TO 5 TIMES MORE THAN LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE
THE DEATH PENALTY DOES NOT DETER CRIME OR ADVANCE PUBLIC SAFETY
THE DEATH PENALTY DOES NOT MEET THE NEEDS OF MURDER VICTIM FAMILIES
THE DEATH PENALTY CAUSES MORE TRAUMA TO EVERYONE INVOLVED

 

About the Bill

HB 1170 is a bi-partisan bill for repealing the death penalty in NH. Details:

  • HB 1170 eliminates the death penalty from all state statutes.
  • Those crimes which currently can be classified as “capital murder” will still be classified as “first degree murder,” the mandatory penalty for which is life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
  • It does not affect anyone currently on death row in NH.

HB 1170 was tabled in the Senate on 4/17. SB202 replaced it.

Conservative Voices

A Richard Viguerie number of conservatives and libertarians have been voicing their opposition to the death penalty, citing it as a costly, inefficient and unjust government-run program. Among them are: Richard Viguerie, chairman of ConservativeHQ.com; Ron Paul, former US House of Representatives; Charles Krauthammer, conservative columnist; Ken Starr, former US Solicitor General; and many others.
———————————————————————– Download the US Constitution Project’s “Statements from Unlikely Allies on the Death Penalty.” (More resources here.)

Updated! NH Activist in Texas Pt. 2
GarzaSince I wrote “Fighting for Life, From Texas Death Row,” much has happened to the inmate I was working with, Robert Will, and myself. Following my successful efforts to find him experienced pro bono lawyers who worked with his Texas court-appointed attorney, Rob’s case was remanded from the federal courts to the Texas state court.  This is significant as in Texas, as once you have reached the federal level, there is nowhere to go but to the Supreme Court for relief.  Surprisingly, in February 2014, the Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Rob based on both actual innocence… More…